2014 UL Ragin’ Cajun Softball Preview: Pitchers
UL junior pitcher Jordan Wallace
Two upperclassmen and a couple of talented freshmen will make-up the pitching staff for Louisiana's Ragin' Cajun softball team in 2014..
Jordan Wallace and Christina Hamilton return from a staff that compiled an overall ERA. of 2.37 a season ago, which was good enough to rank third in the Sun Belt Conference.
Wallace, who went 32-9 with a 1.70 ERA. in 2013, is 55-11 in her first two years of college softball. The sophomore from Weatherford, Texas, who won the first 23 games of her career in 2012, followed that great freshman season by striking out 382 hitters as a sophomore, the second most in program history.
The 2013 Louisiana Pitcher of the Year, Wallace opened last season with a 10-6 record, before winning 17-consecutive games, en route to those 32 wins, which tied her for the fourth-most in school history.
If the Cajuns are going to win a Sun Belt Conference title, and qualify for another NCAA Regional, they're going to need another big year from Wallace, their ace right-hander.
Also returning in the circle this year will be junior right-hander Christina Hamilton.
After going 11-2 with a 1.76 ERA. as a freshman in 2011, the native of Leesville, Louisiana missed all of 2012 recovering from a knee injury, but returned to appear in 16 games last year, going 3-1 with a 3.60 ERA.
Hamilton has been in the system for multiple years now, and has had some success. She is going to be counted on to be consistent in 2014, while providing some much-needed experience and depth to a staff without a senior.
Victoria Brown, who finished second on the team with nine wins last year, had surgery just a couple of weeks ago, and is not expected to pitch in 2014.
Two highly thought of freshman right-handers, Alex Stewart from Zionsville, Indiana, and Macey Smith from Houston, Texas, will be expected to provide quality innings early in their college careers.
Stewart is a good athlete, who throws her riseball in the lower 60's. She was impressive in the fall, and her future looks extremely bright.
Smith, who won 12 games as a senior at Stratford High School, was named the District 22-4A Pitcher of the Year. Like Stewart, Smith had a good fall, and is expected to contribute right away.
Another freshman right-hander, 6-foot-2 Lexi Rouse, of Macon, Georgia, who the coaching staff believes has the talent to develop into a top-flight pitcher in the future, is likely to be redshirted this season
The Cajuns will use four pitchers this season, and will use them all early, until they have to trim some innings from one or two as they head into conference play, and then, hopefully, the NCAA Regionals.
Wallace is the obvious ace, but Hamilton, Stewart, and Smith will all be given their chance to step up and become a fixture in the weekend rotation, much like Wallace did in her freshman year.
With two freshman, the staff will have some growing pains, here and there. But it's a staff with a lot of talent, and one that should help the Cajuns to yet another NCAA Regionals appearance.
Louisiana, who went 47-15 a year ago, while advancing to their second-consecutive Super Regional, and third in the last four years, will open up their 2014 regular season schedule on Friday, February 7, when they take on Northern Iowa and Texas in the 2014 Louisiana Classics.